Self-organization and autism: introduction

jungian therapy jungian therapist carl jung therapy jung new york

How is my personality organized? How is it trying to unfold and where is it caught? How can I release it? As an analyst I am forever asking these questions. Notice that I say personality. I use that word rather than ego or psyche because it is more immediate and more inclusive. A personality is what I encounter whenever I deal with another person. It is a system of instincts, impulses, feelings, sensory images, ideas and attitudes, some from the past and some from the present. Some parts of the personality are creative and expansive, some parts are pinched and rigid. Some parts are loving, some parts destructive.

In my first article (1999) I point out that my personality is a living system, a psychological system which co-exists with my physical system. It follows that, like every other living system, my personality is self-organized. It is not ordered from above, like a platoon in an army, but from within, like a group of people who gather together spontaneously around a common interest.

In my second article (2001) I show that, though self-organization is spontaneous, it is not random: it leads to predictable forms. If we study a group of people who gather around a common interest, we see predictable patterns. At times, for example, one person accepts responsibility and others depend on that person to do so. This pattern expresses a pre-existing mathematical (that is, spiritual) principle: the principle "guides" the formation of the pattern. Each principle is specific and the total number of principles is limited. I argue that a pre-existing principle is what Jung called an archetype-as-such.

I visualize such a principle not as an abstraction but as an image. I see the principle of responsibility, for example, as an image of a father. This is an archetypal image. In part the principle guides my personality by means of the image. When I need to organize myself for responsibility I imagine myself as a father. This suggests a radical question. The most important stage in the self-organization of the personality is the stage when development first begins. All subsequent development must flow from it. Can we identify a principle (and its image) which guides a very early stage of self-organization?

In my third (2004) article (an earlier [2002] version is available in the archive cogprints) I present evidence that the image of the mother's eyes is crucial to early development: when an infant fails to internalize that image the result may be autism; The hypothesis of this article leads to a testable prediction. The incidence of autism has increased dramatically in recent years. The increase may be due to the increased use of non-maternal child care for infants. If so, autism and the early use of child care will be statistically correlated.

More recently I have seen that there is no need to postulate the acquisition of an image of the mother's eye: it need only be the establishment between mother and infant of the dynamic of eye-contact, however that is achieved, which is the key to the infant's social development. My arguments about the visual appearance of primate eyes, the anatomy of human breast feeding, and theory of mind, still apply.

My fourth article (2004) is a more accessible summary of the third. It focuses on autism and early child care.

The fifth article (2006) proves that there is a statistical correlation between autism and the use of early non-maternal child care or, specifically, television. Thus the results of a rigorous statistical test have confirmed the prediction which was generated by my hypothesis.

The sixth article is the 2008 publication in a medical journal of Michael Waldman's evidence that rainfall (a.k.a. early TV watching) is statistically linked to a 40% increase in autism. This increase is so great that the article represents a bombshell in the field of autism. The article is phrased conservatively in order to get it past the autism thought police.

The seventh article (2010) shows that symptoms of autism emerge during development, between 6 and 12 months. This provides significant support for the suggestion that the primary cause is a failure of early eye-contact.

The next article (2010) shows that oxytocin, which promotes infant-mother bonding, also promotes face-recognition and increased social sensitivity in individuals with high-functioning autism. Face-recognition is recognized in this article as a core deficit in autism. This evidence further supports the hypothesis that a failure of early eye-contact is the cause of autism.

The next article shows that oxytocin stimulates face-recognition brain centers which function poorly in autism. Yet more support for the hypothesis that a failure of early eye-contact is the cause.

jungian therapy jungian therapist carl jung therapy jung new york